It's about 8pm in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam and the city formerly known as Saigon is like a futuristic, neon-drenched utopia. We've been travelling for about 20 hours and although tired, we decide to have a night on the town before we move onto the next part of our expedition. Bui Vien in District 1 is the strip that's boasting numerous, garishly lit bars and drinking spots. With pumping EDM and laughably big Nos balloons on offer in abundance, it's a far-cry away from our final destination.
For two weeks in January, the island of Phu Quoc, about an hour's flight from Ho Chi Minh, played home to Epizode Festival, the latest incarnation from the team behind Kazantip. Between December 31 and January 14, the festival took over one of the many pristine beaches on the island and for two weeks, the music rolled on and on. A non-stop that lasted 14 days with a soundtrack of sun-soaked tech house, techno and even some dubstep thrown in for good measure.
We arrived for the final four days of the festival and if you could brave the 32 degree heat during the day section, you were treated to views of the ocean that went on for as far as the eye could see. The sunset around 6pm every day was a particular highlight, with everyone gathering to see out the end of the day with ambient electronica melting in the background.
For the most part though, the festival really came alive at night, with the majority of the crowds arriving around 1am and partying through to the following afternoon. The line-up boasted a who's who of tech talent, with the likes of Sammy Dee, Binh, Edu Imbernon and Maayan Nidam throwing down some serious heat. That coupled with a huge array of undiscovered selectors, there was enough to satisfy anyone's musical desires.
As far as locations for festivals go, Epizode have found the perfect spot. Beautiful views, amazing stage design, on-point soundsystems that bellowed and a vibe that delicately treads the line between relaxed and awe-inspiring. With another edition in the pipeline for later in the year, it seems Epizode will build upon their first chapter and continue to expand. If anything, it acted as the perfect reason to escape the January blues and to visit Vietnam. A beautiful country steeped in history and culture, the festival gives you the auditory injection while exploring fulfils your need to discover.
Here, we focus on the music, and we've compiled some of the tracks that really summed up our time on the island.
Epizode, we'll be back.
Funster is Mixmag's Deputy Digital Editor, you follow him on Twitter or find him on the beach sipping on a coconut